The Tetris Effect

tetris-blocks

Have you ever played the game Tetris for long periods of time?  If so, it’s possible you’ve experienced what is known as the Tetris Effect.  In studies where gamers were asked to play the game Tetris for hours on end, they started seeing shapes everywhere, both in their sleep and while awake.

This will be my last post on Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, so I wanted to share with you my favorite happiness strategy from the book.  Our brains get easily stuck in patterns of viewing the world, and what we look for, we find.

If we get stuck in the pattern of looking for the negative (like accountants proofreading for errors or attorneys finding flawed logic in arguments), we get stuck in that pattern, always looking for and picking up on the negative.  Interestingly both accountants and attorneys have been found to have higher rates of depression because of their inherent need to focus on the negative.  Basically, the more we look for the negative, the more we miss out on the positive.

The good news?  You can train your brain to scan for the positives and see those as well.

Try this.  Watch this video before you continue reading.

Ok, now that you’ve watched the video, did you see the moonwalking bear the first time?  If you’re like 46% of people that were studied who watched the video, you didn’t.  Why?  You were scanning for the number of passes and not focused on the bear.

Our brain scans our environment much the same way.  It is a phenomenon known as inattentional blindness, our inability to see what is often right in front of us if we’re not focusing directly on it.

So what can you do to find the positives?  Look for them.  Every night at dinner in our family, we go around the table and share at least 3 things we are grateful for or that happened good during the day.  Research has proven keeping a gratitude journal or thinking of 3 good things that happened each day forces you to scan for the positives.

Those that did this repeatedly for a week were found to be happier, more grateful, and had higher levels of optimism than those that didn’t, even after they stopped the exercise.

Achor explains that the easiest way to do this is to start making a daily list of the good things in your job, with your friends and family, and your life.

So this week, start looking for positives.  Write them down, share them, or just focus on them and watch what happens!

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